In previous posts, I’ve spoken about female voice actors who crush it, blogged about where you can hear the most prolific voice actors, and delved into how they contribute to the cultural zeitgeist of the modern-day. I’ve crisscrossed every corner of the voice-over industry and examined the layers upon layers of rich tapestry voice actors have woven throughout society and pop culture. I realized I had not written much about the Canadian side of the fence. It’s funny, too – as a Canadian female voiceover artist, you’d think the topic would have come up sooner.
The American Media is Full of Canadian Female Voiceover – Just Listen
Whether we realize it or not, the American media is chock-full of massively successful Canadian actors. From Ryan Reynolds to Ryan Gosling (any of the Ryans, really), people can’t seem to get enough of what seems like our number one export – Canadian actors. Or at least, according to search results, Canadian male actors.
So many amazing female actors, voice talents, and musicians come from north of the border but don’t quite get the recognition they deserve. It’s almost shocking. Household names like Kim Cattrall, Sandra Oh, Cobie Smulders, Rachel McAdams, and Evangeline Lilly barely scratch the list’s surface – and typically appear near the bottom.
Most Female Canadian Actors Don’t Crack the Top 15 Lists
Amongst several lists of top Canadian actors from around the web, on average, we’re lucky to see even one crack the top 15. The saddest part in all this is that nearly all the female actors mentioned earlier have starred in or acted as the female lead in blockbuster hits and award-winning series. Three of these actors have recurring roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and two of said roles are leading characters. Which begs the question – why don’t we hear more about Canadian female voices?
Catherine O’Hara: First of Six Well-Known Female Canadian Actors Who Dabble in Voice Acting
First up on the list is Catherine O’Hara. A shining example of Canadian women in the media, O’Hara is a quintuple threat with actor, writer, producer, director, and singer. If you’ve never seen Schitt’s Creek (her creation of Moira’s accent is beyond brilliant, btw), you might recognize the two-time Primetime Emmy winner from her roles in Beetlejuice, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and Home Alone. The Toronto native has been exceedingly active in the television and film industry for nearly 50 years and has lent her voice to more than 30 credited animation projects. Some of O’Hara’s more well-known voice acting roles include :
- The Nightmare Before Christmas – Sally and Shock
- The Addams Family 2019 – Grandma Flump
- Where the Wild Things Are – Judith
- Over the Hedge – Penny
- Frankenweenie -Susan Frankenstein
Nina Dobrev From Toronto
Next up on our list of noteworthy female Canadian actors, there’s Toronto’s own Nina Dobrev. While most American audiences are likely to recognize her as the star of the long-running hit CW drama, The Vampire Diaries, any Canadian who grew up in the early 2000s will immediately remember her as Mia from the same series that gave Drake his start – Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Even though Dobrev’s two-tiered role in The Vampire Diaries as both Elena Gilbert and Katherine Pierce is considered one of her most notable performances to date, she’s been in the industry most of her life. On the surface, Dobrev might not seem like the most prolific Canadian actor in the industry. Still, she got her acting start at the early age of seven on a television movie called Playing House and has worked fairly consistently ever since. Nina Dobrev’s voice acting credits include:
- Merry Madagascar – Cupid
- Robot Chicken – Cortana, Abby Stevenson, and Jenny Curran
- The Superhero Squad Show – Ellen
Officially, Dobrev only has three voice acting credits to her name. Still, most people probably don’t know that she made an uncredited appearance on Family Guy as Lois Griffin’s high school bully.
Iconic B.C. Born Actress Pamela Anderson
While her most iconic television role as C.J. Parker in the early 90’s hit, Baywatch, Anderson has made over 200 recorded cameo appearances through the years and has been the celebrity face of PETA for more than a decade. It doesn’t matter what role she appears in; people can’t seem to get enough of Pamela Anderson. And it shows.
Even though she’s worked in the film industry for the last 32 years, the B.C.-born actress has only ever won two awards – a Sour Apple and a Razzie Award for Worst New Star (Barbed Wire). Despite that, Anderson has appeared in 57 credited roles throughout her career and remains, to this day, Canada’s most recognizable female actor in all of Hollywood. As a female voice talent, Anderson has appeared in three different series – one of them created Marvel’s godfather, Stan Lee. Pamela Anderson’s voice actor credits include:
- King of the Hill – Cyndi
- Futurama – Dixie, Pamela Anderson’s Head
- Stripperella – Stripperella, Pamela Anderson
Quality Canadian Female Voiceover Rachel McAdams
Whether it’s her show-stopping performance in Spotlight, how she captivated our hearts in The Notebook, or her Mean Girls persona Regina George, everybody loves Rachel McAdams. In fact, given her Academy Award nomination, 22 award wins, and 56 other nominations, it’s safe to call her a Canadian national treasure. Born out of London, Ontario, McAdams started acting on stage at 13 and has landed more than 40 notable roles since. Most recently, McAdams has joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Dr. Christine Palmer, the lead female role in the Doctor Strange franchise, starred alongside Will Ferrell in the Netflix comedy Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga and is set to appear in 2023’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
As far as Rachel McAdams’ voice-acting career is concerned, one might call it sparse – but one might also say it’s about quality over quantity. Alongside co-stars Jeff Bridges, Mackenzie Foy, Riley Osborne, Marion Cotillard, Bud Cort, Ricky Gervais, Albert Brooks, Paul Rudd, and James Franco, McAdams helped take home a collective BTVA (Behind the Voice Actors Award) for her performance in Le Petit Prince. Rachel McAdams’ Voice Acting Credits:
- Marvel’s What If…? – Dr. Christine Palmer
- Le Petit Prince – The Mother
Canadian Female Voiceover and Actor Sandra Oh
When it comes to on-screen drama and sophisticated characters who absolutely steal the show, Sandra Oh is usually on the list. Most people might remember her as Grey’s Anatomy’s Dr. Cristina Yang, but the Ontario-born National Theatre School grad has been a staple of the television industry for the last two decades. Having worked diligently across 94 credited roles since her acting debut in 1989, Sandra Oh’s filmography, by definition, reflects an outstanding example of Canadian female actors in the American media.
While she’s most widely recognized for her portrayal of the gritty yet loveable Dr. Yang, Oh also stars as the titular character in the hit series Killing Eve. This role landed the actor nearly half of her 13 Primetime Emmy nominations. More recently, Oh has voiced the character of Debbie Greyson in the fan-favorite adult-animated series, Invincible and lent her voice to an episode of Netflix’s adaptation of the Neil Gaiman classic, The Sandman.
As a voice talent, Sandra Oh has amassed a collective 19 credited roles throughout her career, but with the frequency of her latest voice-over performances, it seems like her voice-acting career will only become more and more prolific as time goes on.
Some of Oh’s Well-Known Voice-Overs Include:
- American Dad! – Mrs. Yoshida, Katie
- Mulan II – Ting-Ting
- Robot Chicken – Kate Winslet, Sarah Conner
- She-Ra and the Princess of Power – Castaspella
- Invincible – Debbie Greyson
- Turning Red – Ming Lee
Overnight Canadian Star Tatiana Maslany
Finally, at the end of the list, we see a Canadian actor who has seemingly become an overnight sensation, Tatiana Maslany. Most recently, the Regina-born actor has starred as the leading character, Jennifer Walters, in Marvel’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, where she both acts on-screen and performs voice-over for her green-skinned alter-ego. Unlike most of the Canadian female actors mentioned in this list, Maslany’s most prominent role to date centers around a 50/50 split of voice performance and on-screen acting.
While she’s presently best known for her role as She-Hulk, Maslany is no newcomer to television and film – and if she seems familiar, that’s because she starred as multiple characters in Orphan Black for the entirety of its broadcast run. She inhabited the leading role(s) so well Orphan Black landed her a Primetime Emmy – among 32 other award wins and 48 nominations.
As a female voice talent, Maslany is no slouch, either. The Canadian actress has voiced recurring lead roles in Netflix’s Trollhunter franchise, appeared on Robot Chicken, and is set to star in 2023’s Butterfly Tale.
Tatiana Maslany’s voice-over credits include the following:
- Robot Chicken – Barbie
- Captain Cannuck: Fool’s Gold – Red Coat
- Animals – Sherman
- Trollhunters – Aja
- 3Below: Tales of Arcadia – Aja, Queen Coranda
- The Harper House – Ollie Harper
- She-Hulk: Attorney at Law – She-Hulk
3 Prolific Canadian Female Voiceover Artists You’ve Heard
Smart. Professional. Fun. These three words quickly sum up these wonderfully Canadian voice actors. While anyone outside the voice-over world may not immediately recognize their names, these three prolific Canadian voice-over talents are some of the biggest (and most iconic) players in the entire voice-over industry.
Tara Strong: Born out of Toronto, Ontario, Tara Strong has been a significant player in the voice-over world since the age of 13. With more than 600 acting credits to her name, there isn’t much in the animation industry that Strong’s career has yet to touch on. While listing every one of her voice-acting credits would involve essentially plagiarizing an incredibly lengthy IMDB page, some of her most famous roles and characters include:
- Teen Titans, Go! – Raven, Batgirl, Harley Quinn
- Batman: The Killing Joke – Barbara Gordon/Batgirl
- Marvel’s Loki – Miss Minutes
- Ben 10 – Ben Tennyson and additional characters
- World of Warcraft: Shadowlands
- American Dad! – Little Girl, Canadian Woman, and several additional characters
- Rick and Morty – Various additional characters
- My Little Pony – Twilight Sparkle
- The Powerpuff Girls – Bubbles and additional characters
Jennifer Hale: Jennifer is considered the Tara Strong of the video game industry. With nearly 500 credited voice talent roles, Hale has worked on popular franchises like Metroid Prime, Mass Effect, Injustice: Gods Among Us, and Guild Wars. Some of her more prominent voice acting roles include:
- Metroid Prime – Samus Aran
- The Star Wars video game franchise
- Injustice: Gods Among Us – Hawkgirl, Killer Frost
- Mass Effect – Commander Shephard
- The Witcher – Illyana
- Star Trek: Lower Decks – Lieutenant Durga
- Overwatch – Ashe
- Rick and Morty – Keara
- Totally Spies! – Sam and Mandy
- X-Men – Phoenix/Jean Grey
Cree Summer: Coming up at number three on the list, we have Canadian-American voice talent Cree Summer. ’90s kids will most likely remember her as Susie Carmichael from The Rugrats, but like the first two voice actors on the list, she has a widely credited career all her own. With upwards of 360 acting credits to her name, some of Summer’s better-known voice performances include:
- Atlantis: The Lost Empire – Princess Kida
- F is for Family – Daryl Roosevelt
- Guardians of the Galaxy (animated series) – Nebula
- Voltron: Legendary Defender – Witch Haggar
- Ultimate Spider-Man – Madame Web
- Diablo III – Auriel
- Danny Phantom – Valerie Grey
- Clifford the Big Red Dog – Cleo
- The Incredible Hulk – She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters
Not-so-Subtle Differences Between American and Canadian Female Voiceover
On the surface, a Canadian female voice artist might seem arbitrarily different from their American twin, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Whether it’s a matter of perfect voice-overs with enough heartfelt sophistication to capture the attention of vastly different markets, the ability to speak multiple languages, or even the type of work ethic from one country to the next, there are quite a few differences that extend well beyond geographic borders. But for convenience, we’re going to focus on the two most prominent; income and spoken languages.
Same Rates, Different Income: The Difference Between Canadian and American Voice Acting Salaries
If you’re unfamiliar with the voice-over industry, it may surprise you that female voices between the US and Canada command vastly different incomes for the same job. While standard rate guides and union caps are in place throughout the entire voiceover industry, there are always bound to be discrepancies in the average voice-acting salary. Whether due to an inundation of voice artists from the US or more Canadian voice talents working entry-level jobs, the annual salary of female voice actors tends to change drastically.
Entry-Level: Canadian Voice Talent Command Higher Rates
It’s a little hard to believe, especially given most of the voice actors we hear about are based out of the United States, but the beginner rates for Canadian voice acting pay significantly more. The average entry-level salary for Canadian female voiceover begins at $39,000 per year, whereas American voiceover salaries for the same work typically range between $13,500 to $31,999 annually.
Naturally, these rates tend to shift based on how experienced a voice talent is, how prolific they are in the field and how many languages they are fluent in both official languages (a rarity).
Mid-Level: Canadian Female Voiceover Opportunity vs. American
Intermediate voice actor salaries are where things take a bit of a steep turn. While the average Canadian voice-over talent earns just over $50,000 per year, the salaries for their American counterparts begin at $69,000 annually. One explanation for such an enormous salary gap could be that Canadian voice talents work more prominently in promotional videos, guest TV spots, commercials, and explainer videos. At the same time, American voice-overs are more often heard in television shows and films.
Professional Level: Where it All Starts to Even Out
Finally, at the professional level, voice actor salaries begin to even out between Canadian and American voice talents. To clarify, when we use the term professional voice actor, it doesn’t mean to say that the first two tiers of voice acting are any less professional – it simply refers to a prolific, successful, and long-lived career in the voice-over industry. Voice artists of this caliber are highly sought after and have spent their entire careers building up a personal rapport with repeat clients who, more often than not, are critical players in their respective industries.
Professional voice talents at this level can see salaries ranging anywhere upwards of $100,000 per year, no matter which side of the border they’re on. Some of the highest-averaging voice-over salaries even go up to twice that.
Languages and Dialects
Another monumental difference between a Canadian voice artist and an American one – is the types of languages they speak. While the target audience for most American voice recordings and commercials only speaks North American English, Canada is officially bilingual. More often than not, major tv spots, radio commercials, movie trailers, public services, and government videos must be recorded in at least two languages.
That being said, not all voice-over talents from Canada are fluent in French – and of the ones who are, there are two very different dialects. While the French language taught in most Canadian schools, at its core, is the mother tongue language of France, the Eastern-Canadian French spoken in Quebec has a different conversational quality, slang and style altogether.
Bilingualism, Quebecois French, and a Whole New Dimension to Canadian Voice Actor
As a professional female voice actor based out of Montreal, I’ve performed a handful of bilingual voiceovers – but when it comes to the Quebecois audience, I always refer the narration to a Native French Canadian voice actor. The French Canadian population is a unique culture with a rich history, rhythm, and way of telling their own stories. They speak an entirely different dialect of French from the rest of the world. The tone, words, accent, and overall vocal quality of French Canada are so different from anywhere else that they even have their own self-contained media industry. It feels wrong to record voice-overs in French unless you’re a vrais (true) Quebecois.
Whether it’s local radio spots, television commercials, public service announcements, or any voice acting that calls for a script spoken in French, there’s an easy authority and fun tone of voice that’s impossible to replicate with French voice-overs from anywhere else in the country.
What Canadian Female Voiceover Bring to the Table
The pandemic may have closed many doors, but it’s opened up an entire world for voice-over. With access to state-of-the-art home studio equipment and Source Connect technology, you don’t need to be in Canada to work with one of their talented female voice actors. Whether the content you need is eLearning, promotional videos, rock n roll pre-rolls, or a necessary dose of quality customer services to keep you in good standing with clients, Source Connect makes it possible to work with industry-leading Canadian voice talent as if you were right there in the home studio with them. A great voice artist is just a click away.
Fast Turnaround Time
Professional voice actors are called professionals because they know how to get the job done and have lightning-fast turnaround times. When you work with a professional female voice-over talent, no matter what your script may hold, they have the can-do attitude that gets your project done in a quick, efficient, and, most importantly, personal way.
A Knowledge of International Audiences
As Canadians, most of the media we consume comes from other places – specifically the United States. That’s not to say we don’t watch or produce our content. Quite the opposite. Because we observe so many films and series created in the U.S., Canadian actors and producers are in a unique position to not only understand international media, but to create our own with those same audiences in mind. Whether it’s due to our proximity or the media we watch, there are many similarities between Canada and the U.S.
So it only makes sense that international cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver have all become major hubs for the North American English recording industry. It’s no secret that most programs on the CW are filmed in B.C., or even that Toronto sits as a staple in the independent film industry. But what most people don’t know is that Montreal is more than just a great filming location; it’s the place to find fresh, versatile voice talent for the entire gaming industry.
Montreal, Canadian Female Voiceover, and the Gaming Industry
With Ubisoft’s head office located in the heart of downtown Montreal, it’s safe to say most of the voice talent we hear across many of their titles are Montreal locals. Some MMORPGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) like The Elder Scrolls Online even pay homage to their coders and voice actors by giving French Canadian names to the NPCs (Non-Player Characters) encountered throughout the game.